Friday, August 22, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 8/22/2008

USA
Anti-Obama Ad Will Highlight His Link to Radical Group
Obama’s Islamist Problem Has Nothing to Do With His Upbringing
 
Europe and the EU
Amsterdam Mayor Sympathetic to Anarchists
PVV Complains About Obamania in Dutch Public Broadcasting
Denmark: Murder Plot Suspect Leaves Country
Swedish Mosque Arsonist Held for Hate Crime
Italy: Diplomatic Incident Erupts Over Jailing of Moroccan Senator
Fascist ‘Hero’ Street Name Flap
Denmark Tries to Clean Up Terror Talk
EU to Pay Palestinian Authority Wages
Nobel Prize in Literature to Expo Founder?
 
Balkans
The Brezhnev Doctrine: Alive and Well
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Al Qaeda’s Influence Grows in Israel; Israeli Bedouin Indicted
Protest Boats Set Sail From Cyprus to Block Gaza Siege
 
Middle East
Jordan Releases Four Political Prisoners Moved From Israel
Saudi Anti-Terror Cartoons
 
South Asia
Indonesia in Need of ‘Muslim Leader’
Muslim Youth Wing to Raid Malang Brothels
Attack Forces Indonesian Christians Off Campus
Pakistan: Christians Protest Muslim Mistreatment
 
Far East
Philippine Officials Arming Civilians
 
Australia — Pacific
Middle Eastern Crime
Carbon Plan ‘a Company Killer’
 
Latin America
Chavez Says Venezuela Would Welcome Russian Fleet
 
Immigration
Italy: More Than 580 Illegal Immigrants Arrive Off Coast
 
Culture Wars
Random House and the Islamic War Against Free Speech

Thanks to C. Cantoni, CSP, Fjordman, Insubria, JEH, Srdja Trifkovic, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
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USA

Anti-Obama Ad Will Highlight His Link to Radical Group

A conservative nonprofit group with a past link to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign wants to spend $2.8 million on an ad questioning Democrat Barack Obama’s relationship to a founder of the 1960s radical group Weather Underground.

The ad, which is expected to begin airing Thursday in Michigan and Friday in Ohio, focuses on William Ayers, whose Weatherman organization took credit for a series of bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol four decades ago.

American Issues Project, the sponsor of the ad, is a nonprofit 501(c)4 organization. One of its board members, Ed Failor Jr., was a paid consultant for McCain’s campaign in Iowa last year. The campaign paid his firm $50,000 until July 2007. American Issues Project spokesman Christian Pinkston said Failor has no connection to the McCain campaign now.

The ad signals the emergence of the type of tough advertising by independent organizations that operate outside the financial limits of campaign finance law. It is reminiscent of the Swift Boat ads aired against John Kerry four years ago questioning his military service and are widely blamed by Democrats for contributing to his defeat. […]

“Barack Obama is friends with Ayers, defending him as, quote, ‘Respectable’ and ‘Mainstream,”‘ the ad states. “Obama’s political career was launched in Ayers’ home. And the two served together on a left-wing board. Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it? Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?”

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Obama’s Islamist Problem Has Nothing to Do With His Upbringing

By Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama’s appearance before a large evangelical congregation in Orange County over the weekend underscored an evident imperative of his campaign: Emphasize his Christian faith and put to rest insistent rumors that he secretly adheres to the Islamic creed of his father and youth.

The effort to minimize any grounds for fearing Obama has an abiding, if covert, attachment to Islam has prompted him to risk offending Muslims in order to avoid off-message controversies and photo ops. It is, therefore, curious in the extreme that he is giving a prominent role at next week’s Democratic convention to a leader of an organization identified by the Department of Justice as a Muslim Brotherhood front organization and an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism financing conspiracy.

Dr. Ingrid Mattson is the president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an organization created by the radical, Saudi-financed Muslim Students Association. She will represent the Muslim community at the first-ever interfaith prayer service at a Democratic nominating convention.

Now, we know from the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial that ISNA is one of many Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups operating in America. We also know from a Brotherhood document entered into evidence in that case (which is currently being retried after the first prosecution resulted in a mistrial) that, “The work [of Brotherhood members] in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within, and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

The question is why would Barak Obama’s campaign — which has prevented Muslim women wearing headcoverings from being in the background of photographs with the candidate and which recently fired a Muslim-outreach coordinator who had ties to another unindicted HLF co-conspirator — allow itself to be put in such company?

Presumably, the response will be one heard from the Bush administration: ISNA is a large, “mainstream” Muslim-American organization that is an appropriate vehicle for outreach to that community. In fact, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England and former Under Secretaries of State Nick Burns and Karen Hughes are among the senior U.S. government officials who have lavished praise on the group and legitimated ISNA by meeting with Dr. Mattson and others.

The difference is that, for whatever reason, Sen. Obama clearly is exercising care about his public associations with Muslims. Given that, one would think that he would want, in particular, to avoid any actions that could be described as a “third term” for a Bush administration that has repeatedly embraced and allowed itself to be influenced by Muslim Brotherhood fronts.

Certainly, such would seem to be the message of Sen. Obama’s cashiering of Mazen Asbahi, his campaign’s erstwhile Muslim coordinator. The problem was not simply that Asbahi had served on a board with Jamal Said, who the government chose not to indict but nonetheless implicated in the HLF racketeering conspiracy in support of the terrorist group, Hamas.

It was that the board on which Messrs. Asbahi and Said served was for a company owned by yet another Saudi-funded, Brotherhood front and un-indicted coconspirator: the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). The company, Allied Asset Advisors, is, as the Wall Street Journal put it: “a subsidiary of the North American Islamic Trust…which is supported financially by the government of Saudi Arabia, holds title to many mosques in the U.S. and promotes a conservative brand of Islam compatible with the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and also akin to the fundamentalist style predominant in Saudi Arabia.” NAIT is, in other words, a powerful instrument in the Islamists’ campaign to dominate and radicalize the Muslim community in America. ISNA’s Dr. Mattson is an ex officio member of the NAIT board of directors.

Another problem for Sen. Obama would have been that Allied Asset Advisors is one of a growing number of companies that engages in Shariah-Compliant Finance (SCF). This practice ostensibly eschews investments involving interest, pork, gambling and other activities considered impure by authoritative Shariah advisors. Far from being just one of many religious-based “socially responsible” investing options, however, SCF is a vehicle for legitimating the Islamists’ repressive, totalitarian Shariah code and establishing its seditious tenet that Muslims here will not be governed by the U.S. Constitution and laws.

Whatever the reasons for the Democratic presidential candidate’s sensitivities about the Islamic faith, he has an obligation to make clear his attitude towards the Muslim Brotherhood, its mission in America and his willingness to be associated with its front organizations. It is still the case that most Muslims in this country do not want any part of Shariah law. It behooves Sen. Obama to make known now whether he is willing to embrace those who do, and his true attitude towards their ambition to impose the Islamists’ barbaric code here through such subterfuges as Shariah-Compliant Finance.

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Amsterdam Mayor Sympathetic to Anarchists

AMSTERDAM, 22/08/08 — Mayor Job Cohen of Amsterdam has indicated that he, too, considers crime is in some cases permissible to attain an ideal.

Maarten van Poelgeest, leftwing Green (GroenLinks) Alderman in Amsterdam, said last week that breaking laws must not always be condemned. He defended GroenLinks MP Wijnand Duyvendak’s 1985 economic affairs ministry break-in, in which plans for the building of nuclear plants were stolen.

GroenLinks forms the governing coalition in the capital along with Labour (PvdA). The conservative (VVD) opposition party had asked Cohen to reprimand the GroenLinks alderman. But the PvdA mayor mainly praised Van Poelgeest.

“I actually like people that do not repudiate their past,” said Cohen about Van Poelgeest. He thereby implicitly gave his approval of the anarchist past of the alderman, who has acknowledged having regularly broken the law himself as an activist.

Cohen: “It is clear that a debate has again arisen on the significance of the 1980s. The temptation is great to relate everything that is now said, one on one to the present day.” But committing crime from idealism belongs to all times, according to Cohen. He terms this not crime but “civil disobedience.”

“In the course of history, it often happens that deliberately breaking the law is used as an instrument of action by individual citizens, sometimes by politicians ore even by government servants, to achieve changes in society or otherwise desired goals.” Instead of referring to the law, Cohen referred to criteria formulated in 1972 by sociologist Kees Schuyt on what is permissible and not permissible. These criteria are intended “to assess whether the deed fits within the range of the democratic constitutional state,” stated Cohen.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Netherlands: Turkey Doing Too Little for Religious Freedom

THE HAGUE, 22/08/08 — The Turkish government does too little to improve religious freedom. Compared with last year, there are few positive developments, Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said yesterday in a letter to parliament.

Small Christian parties ChristenUnie and SGP had asked the minister for his reaction to a report on Turkey by human rights organisation Jubilee Campaign. This spoke of a growing trend of hatred and violence against religious minorities.

Verhagen: “I agree with the observation that the Turkish government is not doing enough on actually carrying out reforms to lead to an improvement in religious freedom and contribute to a change in the attitude that exists among part of the Turkish population in relation to other religions. Religious freedom and the improvement of the situation of religious minorities in Turkey are therefore continually recurring topics in bilateral contacts with the Turkish government.”

According to Verhagen, religious education at schools in Turkey scarcely goes into religions other than the Sunni belief. Nor can religious minorities, either Muslim or non-Muslim, set up any prayer houses. One section of the Turks sees other religions as a threat to Islam or to the Turkish state. This attitude is encouraged by negative reporting by local media,” writes Verhagen.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


PVV Complains About Obamania in Dutch Public Broadcasting

THE HAGUE, 22/08/08 — The Party for Freedom (PVV) considers that public broadcaster NPS is giving a disproportionately large amount of attention to US presidential candidate Barack Obama and is thereby conveying a picture of Republican candidate John McCain having no chance in the race for the White House.

TV programme NOVA will from Monday be broadcasting an Obama talk-show from the Democratic Convention daily from 7.30 to 8.30 p.m on the Nederland 3 channel. Presenter Joost Karhof is supported in Denver, Colorado by co-hosts Jorgen Raymann and Prem Radhakishun, both of Surinam origin, who do “colourful” street interviews.

The Republican Convention, which takes place a week later in St. Paul, Minnesota, will however barely be covered. NOVA is sending 20 reporters to Denver on behalf of NPS, but only one to McCain.

PVV MP Bosma has asked Education Minister Ronald Plasterk whether he, like the PVV, considers that the NPS is suffering from “blind love for Obama.” According to Bosma, the government-funded NPS is breaking the media law, “which prescribes that public broadcasting must give a balanced picture of society.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Denmark: Murder Plot Suspect Leaves Country

A Tunisian man charged with planning to assassinate the creator of the Mohammed cartoons decided to leave the country in lieu of deportation

One of two Tunisian men who were to be deported for allegedly plotting to kill Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has left Denmark voluntarily, according to police.

Hans-Viggo Jensen, vice-superintendent with the National Police’s foreign suspects division, confirmed to TV2 News that the younger of the two men had taken a flight back to Tunisia early Friday.

Both men had been in custody since 12 February as their own case challenging their confinement moved up and down through the legal system. The case may now be taken back to the Supreme Court after having been previously sent down to the district courts with a requirement of more evidence.

The man’s lawyer, Henrik Stagetorn, said he will continue to pursue the case despite his client’s return to Tunisia.

‘I’ll still argue the position that he has a legal interest in being given a ruling on the issue.’

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Swedish Mosque Arsonist Held for Hate Crime

A man in his twenties has been arrested on suspicion of setting fire to a mosque in Strömsund, northern Sweden. Police are classifying the attack as a hate crime.

The mosque was set on fire during the night of August 15th. Witnesses told police that they had seen several young men run away from the blaze, which took place in a cellar where the mosque is situated.

After a week’s investigations police called in several men for interrogation, one of whom has confessed to starting the fire.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Pedestrian Signal Boxes’ Religious Message Upsets Non-Believers

News that signal boxes located at pedestrian crossings are designed to spread the word of God has angered the designer who drew the pointing finger symbol for the boxes’ Swedish manufacturer.

Designer Kenneth Österlin has issued a written statement categorically denying that his design for Prisma Teknik AB, the Swedish company behind the pedestrian signals, is in any way a religious symbol.

“To make the conclusion that the finger is pointing to God is pretty far-fetched. It is pointing that way in order to direct people as to where to push the button”.

Designer Österlin isn’t the only person seeing red after reading about the signal boxes’ alleged religious message.

On Monday an official complaint was filed with the justice ombudsman, claiming that if media reports were true, then official bodies have broken the law by allowing religious symbols on the pedestrian signal boxes, Svenska Dagbladet reports.

Anyone living in Sweden or the Nordic countries will almost certainly have seen the image of a hand pointing upwards to encourage pedestrians to press the button before crossing the road.

Prisma Teknik AB, the Swedish company behind the pedestrian signals, openly admitted last week that the hand was meant as a hidden symbol for God. In fact, the company says it has never made any secret of the fact.

“We want to show that there is only one way to reach God and that is up and through Jesus”, CEO Jan Lund told The Local.

Though Sweden is not particularly religious, with church attendances consistently low, the country still contains some pockets of religious fervour. One of these appears to be located at Prisma Teknik, a company that supplies pedestrian signals and other technical devices to 60 markets around the world.

Prisma Teknik AB is a family-run business based in the southern Swedish county of Småland, an area with a reputation as Sweden’s bible belt.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Morocco: Rabat MP Arrested in Rome Over Brawl

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, AUGUST 21 — A Moroccan MP, member of the Chamber of Councillors, was arrested in early August in Rome and was tried summarily on charges of participating in a brawl and resisting a public official, the Moroccan media reported today. Yahya Yahya was arrested in Via Veneto, in Rome, where he was on holiday. The Moroccan ambassador to Italy, Majeddine Baddou, was summoned in Rabat yesterday to explain to the government the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the lawmaker. Yahya Yahya is notorious for his stormy temper and in the past was arrested in Melja, in Spain, allegedly again over a brawl and resistance to public official. He is also well-known for his policy in favour of the return of the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla under Moroccan sovereignty. The Italian Foreign Ministry announced that it is providing the accredited Moroccan diplomatic authorities in Rome with the necessary means to be able to provide assistance and consular protection to their citizen. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Diplomatic Incident Erupts Over Jailing of Moroccan Senator

Rome, 22 August (AKI) — Morocco has recalled its Ambassador to Italy, Tajeddine Baddou, to protest against the imprisonment of a Moroccan senator Yahya Yahya in the Italian capital, Rome.

Although details of the MP’s arrest are still unclear, there are reports that Yahya was arrested and later sentenced for being under the influence of alcohol and for insulting police.

Moroccan-born Italian MP Souad Sbai, said she found the reports “strange”. Sbai questioned claims that Yahya was drunk since he is part of an Islamic party and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan was about to begin.

“It seems unlikely that he was drunk,” said Sbai in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

Instead, Sbai says that maybe Yahya was not in Italy to “do shopping”, but instead to organise an “extremist group”, something that she finds “extremely alarming.”

Yahya Yahya was sentenced to two years and three months for ‘breaching the peace’ and for aggression against a public official in early August.

For two weeks he refused to meet Moroccan authorities, and was reportedly still in jail on Friday.

The Moroccan Embassy in Rome told Adnkronos International (AKI) that its Ambassador, Tajeddine Baddou, had left for the capital Rabat and that Moroccan diplomats were “following closely” developments and was in “close contact” with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Photo).

“La Farnesina (Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs) is providing the Moroccan consular-diplomatic authorities in Rome, all the resources so that they can carry out their assistance and diplomatic protection for the Senator,” a ministry spokesman told AKI.

Yahya Yahya represents Melilla, a city under Spanish control claimed by Morocco, and is known for his activism for Melilla’s return to Moroccan sovereignty.

Yahya is understood to hold Moroccan, Spanish and Dutch citizenship. Last June in Spain, he was sentenced by a tribunal in the Spanish enclave of Melilla to one year and three months after attacking Spanish border police.

At the time, the Moroccan government obtained his immediate release.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]


Fascist ‘Hero’ Street Name Flap

Verona at odds over Mussolini diehard who saved partisan

(ANSA) — Verona, August 20 — The northern Italian city of Verona is in a flap about naming a street after a local man who fought and died for Mussolini at the end of the Second World War.

Stefano Rizzardi, a minor aristocrat, stayed loyal to the Fascist dictator and joined his northern-based Italian Social Republic (RSI) after Italy made peace with the Allies.

Unlike most Fascist diehards he distinguished himself by many acts of clemency, including saving the life of a Resistance fighter, before he was killed by Yugoslav guerrillas in 1943.

The decision to name a street after Rizzardi was taken in 2005 on a bipartisan motion by Verona’s then centre-left council.

But the centre-left Democratic Party wants to reverse the move, saying that Rizzardi ‘‘deserves our respect but picked the wrong side’’.

Verona’s pointman on street names, Daniele Polato, told a local paper Wednesday that the row was ‘‘a storm in a tea-cup’’.

‘‘It isn’t about rehabilitating someone who fought for the RSI. One of the main reasons for calling the street after Count Rizzardi is that he saved the partisan’s life’’.

Polato recalled that the 2005 petition included a statement from the man the count saved.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Denmark Tries to Clean Up Terror Talk

The Danish Intelligence Agency has introduced new guidelines for discussing terrorism, advising authorities to avoid words like jihad and martyr. Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen is head of protective security for the agency, which is known by its Danish acronym PET. She said that the goal is to avoid legitimizing terrorism or tying the majority of non-violent Muslims to terrorists, the Copenhagen Post reported.

Terrorist groups often try to legitimize their actions by associating them with religion, using words such as jihad, she said. However, a jihad also has peaceful and positive meanings, and it is unfortunate if the authorities repeat it and strengthen the extremists’ use of the word.

Language Use and the Fight Against Terror also suggests avoiding Islamism, fundamentalism and mujahedin. Karsten Lauritzen, head of the parliamentary integration committee, said that PET is being naive if it thinks that language changes will conquer terrorism. But he said that officials should be accurate — that sharia, for example, has a far broader meaning than non-Muslims typically give it.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


EU to Pay Palestinian Authority Wages

The European Union has announced it will boost its financial aid to the Palestinian Authority by €40 million in a bid to secure salaries for government workers.

“This extra package is a clear indication that we are continuing and reinforcing our commitment to the Palestinian people,” EU’s external affairs commissioner Benita Ferrero Waldner said in a statement on Wednesday (20 August).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Nobel Prize in Literature to Expo Founder?

This writer thinks Mr. Stieg Larsson in Sweden should get the Nobel Prize in Literature.. She also compares him to Tolstoy. He was the founder of our good friends Expo.se

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Balkans

The Brezhnev Doctrine: Alive and Well

by Srdja Trifkovic

On August 21, 1968—40 years ago today—the Soviet army entered Czechoslovakia, followed by smaller contingents from four other Warsaw Pact countries. The occupation (“Operation Danube”) marked the end of the Prague Spring, a doomed attempt by Alexander Dubcek’s reformist faction of the Czechoslovak Communist Party to build “socialism with a human face.”

Ideological justification for the intervention was provided by the Brezhnev Doctrine, which was defined by its author as the obligation of the socialist countries to ensure that their “freedom for determining the ways of advance of their respective countries” should not “damage either socialism in their country or the fundamental interests of other socialist countries”:

The sovereignty of a socialist country cannot be opposed to the interests of the world of socialism … [T]he norms of law cannot be interpreted narrowly, formally, in isolation from the general context of class struggle in the modern world… Czechoslovakia’s detachment from the socialist community would have clashed with its own vital interests and would have been detrimental to the other socialist states… Discharging their internationalist duty toward the fraternal peoples of Czechoslovakia and defending their own socialist gains, the USSR and the other socialist states had to act decisively.

This doctrine was applied de facto by the Soviets in Berlin in 1953 and in Hungary in 1956, but only over Czechoslovakia in 1968 was it clearly defined: by entering the “socialist community of nations,” its members implicitly accepted that the USSR—the leader of the “socialist camp”— was not only the enforcer of the rules but also the judge of whether and when an intervention was warranted. No country would be allowed to leave the Warsaw Pact, or challenge its communist party’s monopoly on power.

Thirty years after Prague 1968 the USSR was gone and the Warsaw Pact dismantled, with NATO expanding into its former heartland. The principles of the Brezhnev Doctrine were not defunct, however. They were given a new life in the liberal guise. In 1991 the Maastricht Treaty accelerated the erosion of EU member countriess’ sovereignty by the Brussels regime of unelected bureaucrats. On this side of the ocean the passage of NAFTA was followed in 1995 the Uruguay round of GATT that gave us the WTO. The nineties laid the foundation for the new international order. By early 1999 the process was sufficiently far advanced for President Bill Clinton to claim that, had it not bombed Serbia, “NATO itself would have been discredited for failing to defend the very values that give it meaning.” This was but oner way of restating Brezhnev’s dictum that “the norms of law cannot be interpreted narrowly, formally, in isolation from the general context of the modern world.” The international system in existence ever since the Peace of Westphalia was signed in 1648 was dead as far as the United States was concerned…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Law Ends Christian/Muslim Organ Donation

Hamdi Al Sayed of the Egyptian Medical Association denies that a proposed law would prohibit organ donation between Muslims and non-Muslims. Critics fear further anti-Christian discrimination and violence.

The Egyptian Medical Association, through its spokesman on August 18, denied that a bill in the Egyptian parliament would discriminate between Christians and Muslims by prohibiting organ transplants between members of the two faiths. The Association supports the controversial measure. “This is all to protect poor Muslims from rich Christians who buy their organs and vice versa,” explained Hamdi Al Sayed — the director of the Medical Association. Under the bill, physicians who violate the proposed law would face retribution.

Al Sayed denied any sectarianism in the proposed law saying that “if some Copts are angered by the law then why is it that Muslims are not.” Even so, Al Sayed said that under the draft law, it’s not possible for a Coptic Christian to donate organs to a Muslim and vice versa simply because donations have been restricted to family members up to the fourth degree. Al Sayed continued “…it is degrading for both religions if lets say, a poor Christian has to sell his kidney to a rich Muslim, or a poor Muslim has to sell his kidney to a rich Christian. It is not right for either religion and that is why we made this law so we can stop organ trafficking.” Finally, Al Sayed continued, “It is not about trying to promote differences between religions but it’s just to minimize the trade of organs as much as we can.”

Speaking for Coptic Christians, Bishop Marcos said “We all have the same Egyptian blood, but if the reason for the measure is to end organ trafficking, we reject it because it may also occur between believers of the same religion.” For Bishop Marcos, the Association’s decision is “very grave” since it can lead to prohibiting blood donation between Christians and Muslims or prevent physicians from examining patients of religions other than their own. “We are afraid that in the future there will be hospitals for Christians and hospitals for Muslims,” said the bishop. Egyptian Christians currently make up approximately 10% of the nation as a whole, which has a population of more than 76 million.

Some Muslims have spoken against the move by the Medical Association. According to Abel Moti Bayumi, of the prestigious Al Azhar Center for Islamic Studies, the prohibition “could lead to discrimination between a Muslim and a Christian living in the same country.” Also, Sheikh Gamal Kotb — former Chairman of the Fatwa Committee — was quoted as saying that there is nothing in Islam that prevents Muslims from receiving or donating an organ transplant from either Muslim or non- Muslim.

For its part, the Egyptian Human Rights Union has brought suit before a court in Cairo against the physicians. Naguib Gibrael of the Human Rights Union believes that the measure “is discriminatory, since it violates human rights, the Constitution, and national unity.” Gibrael denounced the Muslim Brotherhood and its “strong Islamist control over the Medical Association.” Said Gibrael,”If the Medical Association does not annul the measure, there will be more conflict between Muslims and Christians.” The Muslim Brotherhood is the main opposition party in Egypt, which has been linked to Islamist movements worldwide.

During the 1990s, Egypt witnessed a wave of anti-Christian and anti-Western violence led by Islamist groups such as Gamaa Al Islamiya and Islamic Jihad which reaped a toll of some 1,300 people — many of them Coptic Christians — mostly in the southern part of the country. There have been more recent anti-Christian attacks: in June 2008, a monastery in Abu Fana was attacked and burned by Muslims, causing serious injuries to seven monks.

There has been a notable rift between prominent Muslim clerics in Egypt over organ donation. In 2007, the Grand Sheik of Al Azhar, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the leader of the most important center of learning in Sunni Islam, announced his willingness to donate his organs upon his death. This was contrary to the stated position of the Muslim cleric Sheik Mohammed Metwali al-Sharawi. Metawali Al-Sharawi has a popular television program on which he declared that since human organs are a gift from God, they should be neither donated nor replaced by Muslim believers.

There is an acute shortage of human organs donated in Egypt, prompting a lively black market. Concern has been expressed by the Egyptian Medical Association and others about “transplant tourists” — foreigners coming to Egyptian seeking transplants who may encourage the trafficking of human organs. In the 1990s, the association moved to limit or eliminate kidney transplant surgery for foreigners coming to Egypt. For Al Sayed of the Egyptian Medical Association, the intention of the proposed law is the elimination of organ trafficking. “If organ donations are from the third or fourth degree of the family then there is less of a chance of a trade happening as it’s not likely that family members will sell organs to each other,” said Al Sayed.

“Egypt is different from other places,” said Al Sayed. “No one really comes up and says they want to donate their organs to other people who are not in their family. This happens in the West but in Egypt it is mostly the poor people who are desperate and end up selling their organs for money.”

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Mideast: Iran; Ahmadinejad a Gift for Israel, Halevy

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, AUGUST 20 — Iran’s President Mahmud Ahmadinejad is “the best gift for Israel”, the former chief of Mossad (intelligence service) Efraim Halevy stated. “At Mossad we would have never carried out a better operation than the appointment of someone like Ahmadinejad to lead Iran”. Halevy explained that with his intransigent line of action, “Ahmadinejad unites the whole world against Iran”. Halevy’s words were reported and highlighted today by daily Haaretz, which said that the former Mossad chief expressed his opinion during an interview to Arab broadcaster ‘al-Hurra’. Last month Halevy said in an interview to weekly Time, that a prospective Israeli attack against Iran to neutralise the nuclear threat, “would risk to have negative repercussions for the Jewish state for the next 100 years”. Halevy also said to be confident that a potential attack of Iran against Israel would have limited damages, because the majority of the rockets would be intercepted in flight. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Al Qaeda’s Influence Grows in Israel; Israeli Bedouin Indicted

Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and police brought charges on Friday against a Be’er Sheva area Bedouin was who was arrested four weeks ago for plotting to contact Al Qaeda terrorists and suggesting to a friend to carry out a suicide bombing. A gag order on the arrest was lifted Friday. The friend turned down his proposal to carry out an attack.

The terrorist was identified as Abu Rakik, a 24-year-old former student at a technological college and a resident of the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva, near Be’er Sheva. He allegedly tried to contact a Gaza terrorist linked with the Al Qaeda network, headed by Osama Bin Laden, with the intentions of setting up a local cell.

Authorities said Rakik also had downloaded from the internet instructions on how to manufacture a bomb. The indictment is the latest in a growing number of arrests and charges against Israeli Arabs linked to the international terrorist organization, which government officials several years ago dismissed as having any influence on Arab and Bedouin citizens living in the Jewish state.

Last month, four Israeli Arabs, including two from eastern Jerusalem, were arrested for trying to establish an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade cell..

Al Qaeda’s sights on Israel go back at least until 2002, when the organization was behind the double attack on Israelis in Kenya. Then-Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said at the time, “Our hand will reach them,” referring to the Al Qaeda terrorists.

A government spokesman stated after the attacks, “The road from 9/11 through Chechnya to Bali and now Mombasa is a clear one”, and then-Foreign Minister

Intelligence experts warned the government after the withdrawal of the IDF from Gaza three summers ago that Al Qaeda might step up attacks in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and that several of its terrorists crossed into Gaza from Egypt.

Hizbullah deputy secretary-general Sheikh Naim Qassem told the Christian Science Monitor two years ago, after the Second Lebanon War, “Small [Al Qaeda] groups can infiltrate in and out very quickly. Weapons are available everywhere. It is not complex. These are not large groups of people. Just two or three who plan for a while and then launch several rockets..”

Al Qaeda has used language in its propaganda similar to that of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, with such statements as, “The rockets fired at the grandchildren of monkeys and pigs from the south of Lebanon were only the start of a blessed in-depth strike against the Zionist enemy.”

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Protest Boats Set Sail From Cyprus to Block Gaza Siege

Two boats carrying members of a U.S.-based activist group “Free Gaza” left Cyprus for Gaza early Friday to try and break Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory.

The boats — the 70-foot (21-meter) Free Gaza and 60-foot (18-meter) Liberty — left the southern port of Larnaca about 10 a.m. (0700 GMT) for the estimated 30-hour trip. Members of the Free Gaza protest group said some 40 activists from 16 countries — including an 81-year-old Catholic nun — will attempt to break the blockade Israel imposed on Gaza last year. They hope other rights groups will follow their example.

“It’s about human rights…to let Palestinians and visitors travel freely to and from Palestinian lands, what could be more basic than that?” said Free Gaza organizer Paul Larudee. The group plans to deliver 200 hearing aids to a Palestinian charity for

children and hand out 5,000 balloons.

Israeli officials said the delivery is illegal because Gaza is controlled by the Palestinian movement Hamas, which it considers a terrorist group. But they have refused to say how Israel would respond if the activists tried to break the blockade.

Larudee said it is highly unlikely the Israeli navy would fire on the boats to stop them. But he said the group expects Israeli authorities to intercept the boats and arrest those onboard. Larudee said the group would contest any arrests in court on the premise that Israeli authorities committed kidnapping.

Israel imposed the blockade after Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, routing forces loyal to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel tightened its sanctions in response to ongoing rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups targeting civilians in Israeli towns near Gaza.

Israel and Hamas have observed a fragile truce since June.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Al-Qaeda Given Sanctuary in Gaza by Hamas

Following a series of violent clashes, Hamas and Jaish al-Islam established a joint committee to regulate relations between the groups and to solve disputes between them. In essence, Hamas recognized al Qaeda affiliate Jaish al-Islam as a legitimate armed movement inside the area under Hamas jurisdiction. Palestinian terrorist leader President Abbas has even warned about the growing influence of al-Qaeda in the PA.

I believe that al-Qaeda is present in the Palestinian territory of Gaza. It is the Hamas movement that brought al-Qaeda in and it abets the entry and exit [of militants]….I believe that they are allies.”

In the Foreign Policy brief, the JPCA takes a look at al-Qaeda’s growing presence in the Gaza strip and what it means for the war on terror: Al-Qaeda Affiliate — Jaish al-Islam — Receives Formal Sanctuary in Hamas-Ruled Gaza Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Dahoah Halevi […]

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Internet: Saudis Looking for Marriage Click Online

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 21 — Anyone would be dazzled by the large number of marriage websites that are available online and that are causing some concern amongst families, as reported by the online edition of Asharq Al-Awsat. Marriage websites have taken over the traditional role of matchmakers in one way or another in recent years and they have been forced to keep pace with the internet. Asharq Al-Awsat visited some of these websites and spoke to Umm Faisal, one of the many Saudi matchmakers who have ventured into the world of internet matchmaking and believe that it is a better way to earn a living. The Saudi matchmaker created a website where one can find personal ads of men looking for suitable partners to marry or in search of a Misyar marriage, which has gained considerable popularity in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States over recent years following the issuance of numerous religious rulings that permitted this kind of marriage especially amongst elders. Umm Faisal asks for 2500 Saudi Riyals (SR) and keeps 1500 SR (approximately US $666) for herself if she is successful at finding a suitable spouse for her clients. This, she believes, is what she deserves. The rest of the amount goes back to the “groom”. Marriage websites in general have become popular amongst those seeking marriage in Saudi Arabia, especially amongst aging members of society. It is a phenomenon that is becoming widespread with more and more marriage websites available online and an increasing number of those who use them. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Jordan Releases Four Political Prisoners Moved From Israel

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, AUGUST 20 — Authorities in Jordan released today four political prisoners from a prison in the north, one year after they were transferred from Israel, where they were spending life sentences for killing Israelis in cross border attacks. The four men include three Jordanian of Palestinian origin and a young man, Sultan Ajlouni, who became the longest serving prisoner in Israel. Authorities decided to let them go after an agreement was signed with Israel last year according to which they serve 20 months behind bars. “Although I am happy to be out, we need not to forget many prisoners who remain stranded in Israeli prisons”, Ajlouni told Ansa as he walked from the prison draped with the Jordanian flag. Salem and Khaled Abu Ghalyoun along with Amin Al Sanée were arrested on November 8, 1990 after they killed an Israeli soldier in a cross border infiltration. The three men were members of Jordan’s security forces. Five days later, Ajlouni staged a similar operation, killing another Israeli soldier. The four prisoners have been serving life terms in Israeli prisons since 1991, three years before Jordan and Israel sealed a peace treaty- ending six decades of belligerency. Jordan was keen on releasing some of its prisoner in Israel to absorb a growing sense of frustration that has been brewing within the Jordanian society over the benefits of the Wadi Araba peace treaty in 1993. Activists say there are at least 28 Jordanian prisoners who were arrested after the peace deal was signed. There are also many missing who are believed to be around 25. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Saudi Anti-Terror Cartoons

On June 25, 2008, the Saudi Interior Ministry reported the arrest of 520 Al-Qaeda operatives who had planned to strike oil facilities and economic centers in eastern Saudi Arabia. According to the report, the leader of the cell, who bore a message from Al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, was among those arrested, as were some 50 webmasters of websites that spread extremist ideas and encourage terrorism.

After the arrests were made public, Saudi papers focused on condemning terrorism and terrorist ideology, through articles and cartoons.

The following are examples of these cartoons: [see the article for images]

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Italian Soldiers Injured North of Kabul

Kabul, 22 August (AKI) — Three Italian soldiers were injured in an explosion that struck their military patrol about 20 kilometres north of the capital, Kabul, on Friday.

The soldiers — all fro; insm the north of Italy — were not seriously injured in the attack which occurred while there were clearing mines in the rural region.

There are 2,350 Italian soldiers in Afghanistan as part of the NATO multinational force and are divided between Kabul and the western province of Herat.

Meanwhile, US-led troops attacked a compound where Taliban leaders were meeting in western Afghanistan, killing 30 militants, US and Afghan officials said on Friday.

The attack took place in the Shindand district of western Herat province and NATO troops found large caches of weapons and ammunition.

It has been a bloody week for the foreign troops — 10 French soldiers were killed in a battle with Taliban militants this week and three Polish and three Canadian soldiers were killed in separate bomb blasts on Thursday.

There are almost 53,000 troops in Afghanisan as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]


Indonesia in Need of ‘Muslim Leader’

Indonesia needs a Muslim statesman to lead the nation, rather than just political parties, a hard-line Muslim student group said Thursday. Executives from the Indonesian Muslim Student Movement (KAMMI) made their call for a Muslim leader during a meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the State Palace.

“It is important to have a Muslim statesman as the country’s national leader. We will promote this idea not only to the President, but also to anyone willing to offer himself as the future leader,” KAMMI chairman Taufiq Amrullah said at a press conference after the meeting.

“The country is in need of a leader who is not just a politician, or the chairman of a political party. We need a statesman who can take on great responsibility for the sake of the country’s development.”

Taufiq insisted the leadership concept would not offend the constitutional rights of non-Muslims to contest the presidential election. “Our idea is purely a suggestion. We think all future leader hopefuls will accept this idea because Islam is a rahmatan lil alamin (blessing for the universe),” he said.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has always been led by a Muslim president. Religion is theoretically not an issue in the presidential election, with the Constitution restricting candidates only to native Indonesians.

KAMMI was established by Muslim students from various universities across the country as an alternative group to mushrooming student movements calling for sweeping reforms in 1998. Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said Yudhoyono welcomed their viewpoint.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Muslim Youth Wing to Raid Malang Brothels

The local chapter of Nahdlatul Ulama’s (NU) Ansor youth wing have sent out a warning urging recreational centers, massage parlors and the red-light district to close their businesses for Ramadhan. “Ramadhan is a holy month. It is better for them to close shop. If they refuse, they should expect us and our affiliate, the Banser, to pay them a visit,” Malang regency Ansor chairman Nur Chomari said.

Chomari also regretted the Malang regent’s bylaw, which had only ordered the joints to close down for two hours. “We ask that those locations be permanently closed. After all, who can guarantee that they will abide by the law?” he said.

The same concerns were also shared by local Nahdlatul Ulama chapter chairman Abdul Mujib Syadzili. Mujib has asked the government to close down 11 brothels. “The authority have already acknowledged their illegal presence,but for some reason they are still allowed to operate. In other words, it is as if the regency endorses prostitution,” Mujib said.

According to Mujib, the organization is seeking to gather the support of all Muslim community organizations in seeking the closure of brothels and recreational facilities during Ramadhan.

Nahdlatul Ulama is Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization. The organization has long advocated religious moderation and communal harmony.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Attack Forces Indonesian Christians Off Campus

Hundreds of Christian theology students have been living in tents since a mob of angry Muslim neighbors stormed their campus last month wielding bamboo spears and hurling Molotov cocktails. The incident comes amid growing concern that Indonesia’s tradition of religious tolerance is under threat from Islamic hard-liners.

In talks since the attack, the Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology has reluctantly agreed to shut its 20-year-old campus in east Jakarta, accepting an offer this week to move to a small office building on the other side of the Indonesian capital. “Why should we be forced from our house while our attackers can walk freely?” asked the Rev. Matheus Mangentang, chairman of the 1,400-student school.

The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which relies on the support of Islamic parties in Parliament, is struggling to balance deep Islamic traditions and a secular constitution. With elections coming next April, the government seems unwilling to defend religious minorities, lest it be portrayed as anti-Islamic in what is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

The July 25 attack, which injured 18 students, was the culmination of years of simmering tensions between the school and residents of the Kampung Pulo neighborhood. […] The assault began around midnight, when students woke to the crash of stones falling on their dormitory roof as a voice over a loudspeaker at a nearby mosque cried “Allah Akbar,” or “God is great” in Arabic. The unidentified speaker urged residents to rise up against their “unwanted neighbors,” said Sairin, the head of campus security, who goes by a single name.

The attack followed a claim that a student had broken into a resident’s house, but police dismissed the charge.

“People are still tolerant, but there is a growing suspicion among Muslims of others,” said Prof. Franz Magnis-Suseno, a Jesuit priest who has lived in Indonesia for half a century. He added that the police have failed to prevent both attacks on minorities and the forced closure of Christian churches and nontraditional mosques by mobs incited by radical Muslims.

“The state has some responsibility for this growing intolerance, namely by not upholding the law,” he said. A mob stormed a church service last Sunday in another east Jakarta neighborhood, forcing dozens of Christian worshipers to flee, said Jakarta Police Chief Col. Carlo Tewu.

No arrests have been made.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Pakistan: Christians Protest Muslim Mistreatment

In Muslim-majority Pakistan, Christians and Hindus work in sub-human conditions and are arbitrarily force to vacate their shantytowns. A Christian, accused of theft, was beaten to death by Pakistani troops. Due to lack of opportunities for education and jobs, a considerable number of Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, who are among the poorest of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, are forced to work as sanitary workers.

This means descending into underground pipes bearing sewage to conduct repairs and remove obstructions: a labor spurned by most in Pakistan. Christian, Hindu, Sikh and other religious minorities are only 3 percent of the total population of the country. Their salaries are very low even while working under sub-human conditions, reported Aftab Alexander Mughal of Minorities Concern of Pakistan.

Religious minorities not only serve as sanitary workers in the municipalities and other jurisdiction but also serve as domestic workers. Minorities Concern of Pakistan, a human rights advocacy group, asserts that their Muslim employers treat them badly. Non-Muslim servants in the average Pakistani household, according to Minorities Concern, are not allowed to eat or drink from the same utensils as Muslims.

“Christian domestic help’s job description was limited to cleaning of bathrooms and sewers. They could not be hired as cooks or dishwashers. They were commonly referred to as “chooras” (a derogatory term for people of the Christian faith),” Shazia Rafiq, a Muslim, as quoted by Minorities Concern from the “Weekly Pulse” of Islamabad. [….]

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Far East

Philippine Officials Arming Civilians

Officials are arming civilians and local militias in the southern Philippines after two weeks of Muslim unrest that has left dozens dead. Amnesty said it had “verified” reports that civilians in several parts of revolt-hit Mindanao island — the scene of recent attacks by Muslim separatist rebels — were either arming themselves or being given arms by local officials.

In the city of Iligan, some “300 licensed gun owners, politicians and local government officials have set up a civilian militia,” the London-based human rights watchdog said in a statement received in Manila. Amnesty said it had confirmed reports that “local patrons have already supplied guns and ammunition to civilian militias and police auxiliaries”.

Separately, Philippine Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno confirmed today that “civilian volunteer organisations,” or CVOs, in the south would be deputised to help the police. “Our CVOs will help the Philippine National Police to secure the towns and population centres,” he told reporters.

The armed conflict in Mindanao escalated after the Supreme Court suspended a peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Muslim separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on August 4.

The government announced yesterday it was scrapping the agreement, which would have seen the establishment of a Muslim homeland in the south and aimed to end a 40-year conflict that has left more than 120,000 dead.

In the past two weeks, MILF rebels have attacked towns and villages throughout North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte provinces, killing civilians, burning and looting homes, farms and businesses. “MILF units that targeted villages have engaged in serious violations of international law and should be held to account,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.

“But experience from around the world shows that the deployment of civilian militias can set off a chain of reprisals and only increases the danger facing civilians.”

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Middle Eastern Crime

For some time now a handful of ex police officers, like Tim Priest who was a Detective Sergeant in the NSW Police Force, have been writing and lecturing to any one who wishes to listen on the rise of Middle Eastern Crime (MEC) in this country.

Most ‘aware’ officers working in and around Sydney during the mid to late 90’s became familiar with the type of crime that Middle Eastern gangs were starting to concentrate on such as vehicle theft, armed robbery and smash and grab raids. Any police force is only as good as the information its intelligence services can gather on organized crime or criminals in general. The downside, of course, when collating reliable information for which police act on, is the amount of time taken to gather that information.

While there was an awareness at Senior Police level, of the rise of crime related incidents involving Middle Eastern gangs before the Royal Commission of 1996 was convened, it was the advent of that Commission that put the investigation of these gangs onto the back burner. Senior Police decided that until the fallout from the Commission had been fully assessed nothing further was to be done.

This action on the part of Senior Police was a huge mistake, as the squad that would have been tasked with combating MEC was disbanded on the recommendation of Justice Wood, who headed the Commission. This recommendation by Wood has since, had far reaching consequences for the performance of the NSW Police. The loss of this squad very effectively nobbled any investigative knowledge that the police had at this time on criminals of all ‘colors’. This ill thought out action of dismantling the states foremost crime fighting u nit gave rise to MEC throughout Sydney and wherever these gangs chose to commit crimes, or for the fun of it, just generally harass the non-Muslim population.

During the latter part of the 1990’s a tactic of the MEC gangs was to taunt and intimidate lone police officers, usually Highway Patrol officers who normally work as ‘Alpha’ units (Alone). I found it was not uncommon to be working a shift and have to respond to an ‘officer backup’ call, where earlier, a Highway Patrol officer may have pulled over a lone driver for a minor traffic offence, only to find within minutes that he/she would be surrounded by several vehicles carrying groups of young Middle Eastern men who would begin to hurl abusive and offensive remarks aimed at that officer in order to intimidate them into retreating.

While police at that time, had no power to move groups of persons on, who were deemed to be causing trouble, and the younger police, some fresh out of the College of Knowledge, would stand around and be intimidated by these would be thugs, my favorite trick with these people, was to retrieve the Traffic Infringement Notice book from the police vehicle and begin defecting the trouble makers cars. This action usually had the desired effect and the trouble makers would soon disperse leaving the highway officer to do his job.

Another tactic the MEC gangs took up, was breaking into police vehicles while the officers were attending to ‘jobs’ away from the vehicle. Police equipment stolen over several thefts included, body armor, hand held radios and even a Glock 9mm pistol from a detectives car. Some officers had shirts stolen from their clothes line. None of these items has ever been recovered…

           — Hat tip: JEH[Return to headlines]


Carbon Plan ‘a Company Killer’

The nation’s peak business group has joined the growing chorus across Australian industry warning the Rudd Government that local companies will close and move offshore unless it fundamentally rethinks its proposed emissions trading scheme.

A “real world” analysis of the impact of the Government’s plans — based on 14 companies that opened their books for the Business Council of Australia — revealed that even with the Government’s proposed compensation, three firms would face a carbon cost so high they would close.

The future of a further two of the 14 companies — drawn from hard-hit sectors such as aluminium refining, cement manufacturing, petroleum refining, steel making, sugar milling and zinc and nickel refining — would be extremely bleak.

The companies, with annual revenues ranging from $90 million to more than $3 billion, revealed their confidential financial data to BCA consultants Port Jackson Partners on the basis that their identity would remain secret.

But the research shows that, on average, the companies’ pre-tax earnings would be cut by 22 per cent. The worst affected would suffer a 136 per cent reduction in earnings.

The Labor Government plans to introduce an ETS by 2010, forcing big polluters to buy permits to cover their greenhouse gas emissions.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Chavez Says Venezuela Would Welcome Russian Fleet

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says Russia is interested in sending a fleet to visit the Caribbean — and he promises to welcome its ships. Moscow has not publicly announced any such a plan.

The Venezuelan socialist says he discussed the possibility with Russian envoys who visited him in Caracas and spoke by phone with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Chavez has close ties with Moscow and says he fully supports a Russian fleet’s visit to Venezuelan waters.

He told state television Thursday night that Russian envoys are interested in the idea.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Italy: More Than 580 Illegal Immigrants Arrive Off Coast

Lampedusa, 22 August (AKI) — At least 580 illegal immigrants arrived on Friday off the small Italian island of Lampedusa, as well as the southern region of Calabria, prompting the mayor of Lampedusa to deploy voluntary vigilantes to make sure none of the immigrants escape from the temporary reception centre.

Bernardino de Rubeis has taken advantage of the recent Italian government security package after an election pledge to clamp down on illegal immigrants.

“I saw three illegal immigrants escape the temporary reception centre and I found them at a bar completely drunk later. With the help of an official from the municipality I made them get in the car and I took them back to the centre,” said de Rubeis, who said would install barbed wire around the centre.

“This is not a matter of racism. It is a security problem. In many cases these people have not yet been identified and I cannot allow them to go around the town, endangering the peace of tourists and residents,” he said.

Several vessels and rubber dinghies arrived throughout the day, carrying from 40 and up to 350 illegal immigrants.

Early on Friday, Italian port authorities spotted a vessel carrying 350 would-be migrants when it was less than one nautical mile from arriving to land. The would-be migrants were later transferred to a temporary reception centre.

Later, Italian finance police spotted a boat 60 nautical miles off the coast of Lampedusa, carrying 90 illegal immigrants, among them 15 women.

In the southern Italian region of Calabria, a boat carrying 60 would-be migrants had to be rescued by Italian authorities after the boat capsized.

Helicopters had to follow some of the illegal immigrants who managed to escape after swimming to the coast. Three of them had to be transferred to a hospital after sustaining wounds.

Two more vessels carrying 80 would-be migrants was spotted later by Italian Coast Guard authorities 80 nautical miles south of Lampedusa.

Italy has the European Union’s longest coastline — 4,500 kilometres — making it difficult to police and a preferred destination for migrants.

The would-be migrants usually travel aboard people smugglers’ boats, typically paying thousands of dollars for their passage. Scores drown or die of dehydration, hunger and/heatstroke on the perilous journey.

Lampedusa is a tiny island that is closer to Africa than the European continent and a favourite drop off point for the people smugglers.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Random House and the Islamic War Against Free Speech

By Robert Spencer

Although when Random House canceled publication of Sherry Jones’ trashy novel about Muhammad’s nine-year-old wife, Aisha, it was succumbing not to actual threats but to the sheer prospect of threats, no one has accused the venerable publisher of “Islamophobia.” Even in today’s hyper-politically correct public square, everyone seems to take for granted that when certain Muslims don’t like something, they threaten to murder the people involved. Random House’s pre-emptive self-censorship constitutes tacit recognition of what Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of Organization of the Islamic Conference, recently termed the “red lines that should not be crossed” — lines he was dictating to the West. “In confronting the Danish cartoons and the Dutch film ‘Fitna’,” Ihsanoglu declared, “we sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed. As we speak, the official West and its public opinion are all now well aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.”

Random House paid $100,000 for Sherry Jones’ racy historical novel about Muhammad and his nine-year-old wife, Aisha, The Jewel of Medina, only to withdraw the book just days before its scheduled August 12 publication date. Random House deputy publisher Thomas Perry explained that they decided to drop the book after receiving, “from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.” They decided “to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

5 comments:

Homophobic Horse said...

The same permissiveness that brings Islam here is also the same permissiveness that encourages the writing of trashy porn novels.

teacher.paris said...

The first fifteen minutes of this new documentary about 911 may be thought provoking.

teacher.paris said...

Oops.
http://www.vimeo.com/1565381?pg=embed&sec=1565381

Carl in Jerusalem said...

The prisoners who were released by Jordan were NOT 'political prisoners'.

laine said...

The Saudi rulers are playing some kind of double game. The cartoons they have allowed to be published skewer Muslim terrorists well and good but with the other hand they are funding these same terrorists abroad.

Guess that's the agreement: The royal Saudis think they can keep their greedy selves safe by cleansing Saudi Arabia of terrorists and exporting them around the world. If by some chance the terrorists succeed in subjugating the West and bringing about the Caliphate, then their bank-rollers can claim leadership of the whole works. Even if they fail, the Saudi sheiks can continue their kleptocrat ways without being inconvenienced by terrorist attacks at home. Win, win.